clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Sabres Host Sharks in Their First Game Since New Year’s Day

Buffalo Hopes to Recover After Latest Loss

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Buffalo Sabres v San Jose Sharks Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Game 34

Buffalo Sabres (10-17-6) vs. San Jose Sharks (17-16-1)

Puck Drop: 7:00PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Sharks Blog: Fear the Fin

Know Your Opponent

San Jose Sharks

Record: 17-16-1

Last Game: 6-2 Loss to Detroit

Division Ranking: 6th in the Pacific Division

PP: 21st (17.9%)

PK: 6th (83.9%)

What to Watch

1. Can the Sabres Close Out a Game?

The Sabres have proven they know how to score goals this season, but far too often, Buffalo lets their opponents come back in the third period and beat them. Die by The Blade’s archives are littered with recap stories that highlight this weakness. Sabres Blow Lead is a headline we’ve seen way too much of lately.

Pundits have touted coach Don Granato’s discipline for the Buffalo Sabres playing better this season. That may be, but for some reason the team lets their guard down when they’re a few goals ahead and ends up losing another two points they could have had. Fans would like to see more of those fleeting glimpses of hockey greatness they’ve occasionally watched this year. The Sabres’ December win against the Minnesota Wild comes to mind.

2. How Will the Sabres’ Continuing COVID Woes Affect the Game?

Buffalo has suffered continuing COVID-19 setbacks over the past year. Last January and February, the virus decimated the team after the Sabres played two back-to-back games against the New Jersey Devils. This season, Don Granato, Zemgus Girgensons, Dylan Cozens, Jeff Skinner and Vinnie Hinostroza all missed games because of COVID protocols. Almost as soon those players returned, it seemed, Casey Fitzgerald, Kyle Okposo, Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch and Anders Bjork were on the COVID list.

The Sabres need to take a page from the area’s other pro sports team, the Bills and have somebody step up and fill the role when players can’t play because of COVID. Good teams find a way to win. It’s past time for the Sabres to learn how to do that.

3. Red Wings Beat the Sharks, Sabres Could Do It Again

The San Jose Sharks are coming off a 6-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. In 21 games against the Sabres, San Jose has lost 14 of these matchups, so the Sabres have beaten the Sharks 2-1 on average. The Sabres haven’t prevailed in a contest against San Jose since Oct. 23, 2019, when Buffalo won 4-3.

The Buffalo Sabres have 11 games remaining in January and only three in February, unless the NHL adds some make up games that would have gone to the Olympics. Other teams have made January comebacks and there’s no reason the Sabres couldn’t do it, too.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Victor Olofsson

Rasmus Asplund - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza

Brett Murray - Mark Jankowski - Zemgus Girgensons

Drake Caggiula - Cody Eakin - John Hayden

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Will Butcher - Mark Pysyk

Ethan Prow - Colin Miller

Starting Goalie: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

San Jose Sharks

Forwards

Timo Meier – Tomas Hertl – Jonathan Dahlen

Alexander Barnabov – Nick Bonino – Noah Gregor

Matt Nieto – Scott Reedy – Jayden Halbgewachs

Jeffrey Viel – Jasper Weatherby – Andrew Coligano

Defense

Brent Burns – Jaycob Megna

Nicolas Meloche – Radim Simek

Erik Karlsson – Jacob Middleton

Starting Goalie: James Reimer